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Is a USC-UCLA battle brewing on Capitol Hill?

March 5, 2009 |  1:20 am

Is Congress the next arena for the USC-UCLA rivalry?

It doesn't take an act of Congress to stir passions in the USC-UCLA rivalry. A simple resolution will do.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives debated a resolution honoring USC's football team for its 2008 season, which culminated in a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State. While it was no surprise that the list of cosponsors lacks a representative from Pennsylvania, some people were shocked to learn that the resolution's author is a UCLA alum.

Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), who went to Westwood for her undergraduate degree, serves the district that includes USC. Her resolution, certainly not the first to honor a sports team and probably not the last, drew the ire of readers on latimes.com and espn.com -- not so much for the "betrayal" as for wasting taxpayers' time and money.

The discussion got even more heated on bruinsnation.com, where readers were urged to write in and complain to Congresswoman Watson. News of their efforts was eventually picked up by Washington blogosphere heavy-hitters politico.com and dailykos.com.

It couldn't hurt the Bruins Nation campaign that one of their editors, Murshed Zaheed, works for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Zaheed didn't write the blog post himself but is one of the site's most active leaders. [Update: Zaheed has confirmed that he does not currently work for Senator Reid. Research shows he was a Congressional staffer for the past several years and was Reid's Director of Internet Communications in 2008.]

Constituents still have time to make noise about the issue. After more than 11 minutes of proceedings on the resolution, a vote was postponed when freshman Congressman Jared Polis objected to a lack of quorum. Polis, who represents Boulder, Colo., grew up in Southern California.

Despite the cyberhype, the resolution is expected to pass since it's a common congressional gesture. Just ask Zaheed, whose boss recently sponsored a resolution honoring Paralympic athletes. In the past, Sen.  Reid has been behind bills recognizing Chinese New Year, Bill Clinton's 58th birthday, and the evolution and importance of motor sports. He also pushed multiple resolutions to honor cowboys, including one that created National Cowboy Poetry Week.

How 'bout them Cowb ... er ... Trojans? And what about the Gators?

This year, the Senate and House passed a pair of separate measures congratulating Florida for winning the BCS National Championship, though the House took the unusual step of holding a roll call vote and found five representatives against the resolution. They introduced a third resolution calling for a football playoff to replace the current BCS system. You may have heard of that issue once before, say, during Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Yes, there's a lot of work to be done in Washington.

-- Adam Rose

Photo: Is Congress the next arena for the USC-UCLA rivalry? Credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg News

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